Gilded Serpent presents...

Through the Eye of the Camera


photos by Vibeke Johnson
text by Laura Rose
posted May 27, 2009

Laura Rose demonstrates bold stage makeupThis photo exhibit captures moments and scenery of Delilah’s most recent Visionary Belly Dance Retreat, which took place in Hawaii, Janurary, 2009. Each retreat, about 10 days in length, features a guest instructor and theme. This year, participant’s explored "The Belly Dance Entertainer" working on a variety of styles with Princess Farhana, Delilah, and Laura Rose. All workshops centered around the idea of creating something for one’s audience. Costumes, make-up, stage presence and even a playful day exploring Burlesque character were all saluted at this retreat. Bellydancer and photographer Vibeke Johnson captured the following pictoral story.

Each year, the different themes draw different characters for a wide variety of reasons.

  • Some Bellydance fanatics just can’t get enough!
  • Women who’ve never belly danced before answer some strange call or spark.
  • Seasoned professionals looking for new inspiration.

Vibeke uses the back and white format to capture these women. She immortalizes the different faces and stories with a cast of old world glamour (perfect for the theme).

Robin & Ahva
Brandy Briggs and her instructor, Ahva, cast off their warm coverups of South Dakota.
Princess Farhana’s stage makeover was Verna’s first time indulging in this kind of extreme femininity.
Artemis finds divine inspiration on Lord Shiva on the way to the dining lanai.
Laura Rose & Princess Farhana
Vibeke’s sepia treatment seems to transport Laura Rose and Princess Farhana back in time.
Valeria, Bellydancer and fitness instructor from Montana, uses this fantastic bindi set for an exotic transformation!
Beach cliffLandscape

The big island of Hawaii is sacred ground to walk upon. Seven minutes as the crow flies from the location of the retreat, molten rock flows into the ocean. Endless blue waves lap against the cliffs just across the street. Everywhere is evidence of the destruction that lava can cause. Relentless, colorful and bountiful life springs from the sparkling black rock giving the dance a depth and inspiration we cannot always find back home in the city.

Lava Rock spider web

Moments In Time

Vibeke has an eye for capturing the essence of a moment. Her soft and friendly energy lets her camera gently slip into our fields of being, without becoming obtrusive. The friendships made, the concentration exerted, the passion witnessed, and the souls bared, were all evident in her film.

Burlesque class
With a little maribou and a lot of humor, dancers play dress up the one day featuring Burlesque.

Delilah experiencing tarab (feeling of ecstasy) on our last night showcase.
Meriyah Verna and Valena

Meriyah, Verna, and Valena, from opposite ends of the country, found fast friends in one another.
Delilah's class

Delilah, "all amped up", during our drum solo class with Erik Brown and Stephen Elaimy playing the oud.
Delilah tells a story

Delilah mesmerizes the crowd with a story.
Stephen and Miya

Stephen Elaimy showing Miya how to jam (Arabic style) playing the violin.

Onya of Maui in action!
Elvia and Farhana

Princess Farhana applying darker shadow to Elvia of Japan.

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  1. Maria

    Jun 5, 2009 - 09:06:32

    That is not Lord Shiva.

  2. Estella

    Jun 7, 2009 - 07:06:56

    This is not Lord Shiva. This is Buddha, and I find it very offensive that this lady would think fit to climb on the sacry statue.

  3. Karnak

    Jun 8, 2009 - 03:06:57

    I know three of the women that are picture in this article and I’m still jealous I couldn’t go too! I know they had an amazing time, and I’m glad to see that their joy and beauty was captured for this article.

  4. Karnak

    Jun 8, 2009 - 03:06:15

    Estella and Maria are right – that statue is not Lord Shiva. It’s Buddha. Buddha’s iconography included elongated ears (from earring worn in his hedonistic youth), an urna (dot between the eyebrows), and the ushnisha (bump of hair on the head).

  5. Maria

    Jun 9, 2009 - 07:06:09

    Yes…if Artemis was caught doing the same thing in a primarily Buddhist country like Thailand, she could be arrested and fined for climbing on a statue of the Buddha! Especially since the feet are considered the lowest and most offensive part of a body, touching a religious statue with one’s feet is considered very offensive.

  6. Verna

    Jun 9, 2009 - 08:06:48

    Delilah’s retreat was so inspiring  – besides dancing our hearts out and learning from the best instructors around, I made so many wonderful friendships – I can’t wait to get back to Hawaii again – what a magical trip of a lifetime!  Thanks for posting the article and pictures – just another reminder of this awesome week in paradise!!

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